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Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection (PlayStation 3) artwork

Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection (PlayStation 3) review

"It was only a matter of time before Konami jumped on the HD remaster bandwagon started this generation by Sony with God of War Collection, and Konami picked the best candidate to go first. Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is a compilation no Metal Gear Solid fan should miss."

It was only a matter of time before Konami jumped on the HD remaster bandwagon started this generation by Sony with God of War Collection, and Konami picked the best candidate to go first. Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is a compilation no Metal Gear Solid fan should miss.

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection includes Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (both games were previously released on PS2), and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (which was released last year on PSP). Each included game now has its own complete set of trophies. Normally trophies don’t mean a lot, but many of the ones included in this collection are noteworthy for being particularly silly or fun. MGS 2 has a trophy called “Sexting” that you unlock by sending Otacon a picture of a marine in his underwear. MGS 3 includes a trophy called “Snake Eater” that is awarded if you eat any snake. There’s even a trophy available for killing Ocelot and getting that memorable “Time Paradox” game over screen (it’s appropriately called “Problem Solved, Series Over,” which will make perfect sense to series fans). Rather than simply rewarding players for doing things they have to do anyway if they want to progress (though there also are trophies for that), MGS HD Collection rewards players for finding the fun little easter eggs that make Metal Gear Solid so great.

On a personal note, Metal Gear Solid 2 was my introduction to the series. Since at the time I hadn’t been looking forward to playing as Snake since the end of MGS 1, it didn’t bother me too much when Snake was taken away from me after a few hours and replaced with Raiden. Hopefully, fans of the series to have since come to accept Raiden as the lead protagonist of that second installment so that we can all move on and enjoy it for what it is. However, the controls may seem a little odd nowadays. The game was built specifically for the PS2 and its analog buttons respond differently depending on how hard they’re pressed. For example, if you equip a machine gun and lightly press the Square button, your character will raise the weapon and aim, but he won’t fire until you press the button harder. Combine this with the fact that shooting is awkwardly mapped to Square, first person mode is mapped to R1, and aiming is mapped to the left control stick (as opposed to the right stick), and you might find yourself fumbling a bit when you first start playing. MGS 2 was developed before the Metal Gear Solid series evolved partially into a third-person shooter franchise.

MGS 2 probably has the least to gain from an HD remaster. The game mostly takes place indoors, which means lots of clean polygons and smooth surfaces that already looked fine in SD and thus don’t show much improvement in HD. What MGS 2 does gain (as do the other two remasters in the package) is a smooth new 60fps framerate. There is a bit of slowdown in some parts, but not often enough to be a problem. Strangely, codec conversations take a few moments to load in this new version, which was never a problem in the PS2 version. Also, the skateboarding minigame from Substance is strangely and tragically missing, though the rest of the Substance extra content (such as the extra Snake side missions) is accounted for. While MGS2 certainly lacks the impact it had upon release (it’s hard to believe that this was once one of the most technically impressive looking video games ever seen), this new update is a competent remaster that makes a classic game more palatable in 2011.

Metal Gear Solid 3 is where the series starts to feel a bit more modern, which is ironic considering that it takes place almost a half-century in the past. It’s the first game to abandon the fixed overhead camera for a more outdoor-friendly system, thanks to being based on the freely-controlled Subsistence version. MGS 3 follows Naked Snake, the man who would eventually become the major Metal Gear character Big Boss, as he deals with the betrayal of his mentor and mother figure (and all around incredibly strong female video game character), The Boss, on a mission to sneak through the jungle to stop a Russian Colonel from developing the Shagohod, a kind of precursor to the Metal Gear system around which the series plot revolves.

Graphically, MGS 3 is the title in the compilation that benefits the most from its HD facelift. It’s clear now that MGS 3 was too beautiful for the PS2. Its lovingly crafted outdoor environments, full of trees, grass, and wildlife, are full of detail and texture were lost to the PS2’s low resolution. On the PS3, these environments come alive and look just as good as many PS3 games. One sequence takes place in a dark cave full of water. The cave walls are damp and have been eroded over time. It’s dark down there, and difficult to see, but if you manage to find a source of light (or just light your cigar to give off a faint glow), you get a really great reflective light effect from the wall. Things like this are why MGS 3 is so deserving of a remaster. You’ll forget you’re playing a PS2 game.

Unfortunately, MGS 3 loses quite a bit of its bonus Subsistence content in the transition to this generation. Duel mode is missing, which means you’ll have to replay the whole game if you want to fight the bosses again. Metal Gear Online is out, though understandably, as online multiplayer is harder to port over and Metal Gear Solid 4 has the definitive version of Metal Gear Online included anyway. The Secret Theater is also out, which is sad, because everyone wanted to see Raiden go back in time and get trampled by a horse in glorious HD. Most disappointingly, Snake vs. Monkey, the mode that had Solid Snake hunting monkeys from Ape Escape, is nowhere to be found. (Also missing is the Metal Gear Ape cameo in the main game.) At least the two most important bonuses are still in: the complete MSX versions of Metal Gear 1 and Metal Gear 2.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is probably the best reason to own this collection, being the game the fewest people have probably played. Peace Walker was originally released on the PSP, which may not have been the best place for it. The mission structure is designed for a portable game, with multiple short missions chosen from a menu as opposed to the traditional one long mission with multiple objectives, but the game suffered from two problems. First, Peace Walker is essentially a stealth/third person shooter hybrid, which is awkward to control without a second analog stick. Secondly, Peace Walker was very clearly designed for Japanese handheld gamers, meaning it basically expected you to be playing with friends at certain points. While the game only has the one difficulty setting, the main game is easy enough to get through. It’s the bosses that will give you a headache. The PSP version of Peace Walker didn’t have proper online play, though you could play online using Ad Hoc through a PS3.

Both of these problems have been fixed for this PS3 release. The second analog stick of the PS3 controller makes controlling the camera a breeze. Shooting is controlled similarly to Metal Gear Solid 4, which is a little jarring when coming directly from MGS 3 but easy enough to adapt to. More importantly, this version adds proper online play. Those tricky multiplayer-designed bosses aren’t a problem anymore. Furthermore, if you’ve already managed to make a good bit of progress in the PSP version of the game, this version features “Transfarring,” which allows you to import your save file from (or export it to) the PSP version.

Peace Walker is somewhat different from the classic Metal Gear Solid game. Instead of consisting of a linear adventure where you occasionally find new weapons and tools as you progress, story and side missions are selected from a menu. Between missions, Snake returns to his home base, which is populated by soldiers he “recruits” (which is to say that he kidnaps them using a balloon and a helicopter, seriously) on missions. These soldiers can be assigned various duties, the most notable of which is R&D. This team is always working to develop new gear for Snake. At the beginning of each mission, you can edit which tools you bring with you into battle. You get to choose two large weapons (guns), a handful of smaller weapons (like grenades), and some tools (sonar, binoculars, etc.). Once you’re on a mission, you’re stuck with your selections until you complete your current objective or abandon it. This is very different from previous MGS games, all of which let you swap out what you were carrying at any time, or just allowed you to carry everything at once. Still, at its heart, Peace Walker has more in common with classic Metal Gear than any game since Metal Gear 2. Unlike other recent titles in the series where rushing in with guns blazing was always an option, stealth is always your best bet. Even when battling a tank, you’re better off picking off as much of its entourage as you can before finally being noticed.

Graphically, Peace Walker still looks a lot like a PSP game. A highly-polished PSP game with surprisingly high quality assets, but still a PSP game. The full-motion cutscenes of its console brothers are rare, substituted by hand drawn motion comic-style scenes. This game was definitely designed to be played on a much smaller screen. It’s forgivable, though, if only because this port of Peace Walker is so much more accessible.

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is as good as it gets for fans of Metal Gear. The only way it could possibly have been substantially improved is if it had included an HD remake of Metal Gear Solid (which would be more trouble than it’s worth for a collection like this, as it would have to consist of a remake and not a remaster) and a remaster/port of Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, the one part of the Metal Gear canon that remains unplayable on a PS3. While a few little things are missing, they’re barely noticeable and hardly detract from the completeness of the collection. As it stands, this collection is a must-have for series fans and a fantastic second step for newcomers (right after downloading MGS 1 from the PSN, if possible). The individual pieces of Metal Gear Solid HD Collection were among the best their respective consoles had to offer, and having these updates all in one place is too good to pass up.


Roto13's avatar
Staff review by Rhody Tobin (November 25, 2011)

Rhody likes to press the keys on his keyboard. Sometimes the resulting letters form strings of words that kind of make sense when you think about them for a moment. Most times they're just random gibberish that should be ignored. Ball-peen wobble glurk.

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zippdementia posted November 26, 2011:

I suppose they could have thrown on "Twin Snakes" for the MGS1 HD choice, since that was a full remake with MGS2 graphics (and oddly worse voice acting and overblown remakes of the cutscenes).
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joseph_valencia posted November 27, 2011:

I have a feeling they're gonna do a full-blown HD remake of MGS. The original version is too dated to package alongside MGS3 and Peace Walker, and the consensus on the Gamecube version seems to be "missed opportunity". The only logical thing to do is remake it.

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